Molitor, Lovullo named Managers of Year

Twins, Di­a­mond­backs bosses turned big losers into 2017 post­sea­son qual­i­fiers

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - SPORTS - BY BEN WALKER

Paul Molitor and Torey Lovullo both presided over turn­around sea­sons, guided their teams into the play­offs and won Man­ager of the Year awards by wide mar­gins.

The paths they took, those were to­tally dif­fer­ent.

Mo lit or needed a club­house talk to calm down the Min­nesota Twins, his play­ers an­gered by moves the front of­fice at the July 31 trade dead­line.

“I still be­lieved,” Molitor said Tues­day, re­call­ing how he helped his team over­come “that speed bump.”

No such dis­trac­tions in the desert.

In his first full sea­son as a skip­per, Lovullo built a cul- ture of com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the Ari­zona Di­a­mond­backs. He of­ten re­ferred to the “love” team­mates had for each other — and Lovullo cer­tainly loved the mid­sea­son deal that brought big-hit­ting J.D. Martinez to the D-backs.

“We are go­ing to be one year bet­ter,” he said, ad­ding his club would be even “more united” in 2018.

Molitor won the Amer­i­can League Man­ager of the Year award af­ter the Twins be­came the first team to make the play­offs fol­low­ing a 100-loss sea­son.

Molitor drew 18 of the 30 first-place votes in bal­lot­ing by mem­bers of the Baseball Writ­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­ica.

Cleve­land’ s Terry Fran­con a was se­cond and A. J. Hinch of the World Se­ries cham­pion Houston Astros fin­ished third. Vot­ing was com­pleted be­fore the start of the play­offs.

Lovullo got 18 first-place votes, too, in earn­ing the Na­tional League prize. Dave Roberts of the Los An­ge­les Dodgers was se­cond and Colorado’s Bud Black was third.

Roberts, Black, Mil­wau­kee’s Craig Coun­sell and Dusty Baker, since let go by Wash­ing­ton, also had first­place votes.

Molitor joined Frank Robinson as the only Hall of Fame play­ers to win a man­ager of the year award, which was first pre­sented in 1983.

“I was aware of some of the history,” Molitor said.

The Twins went 85-77 this sea­son and cap­tured their first play­off spot since 2010 be­fore los­ing to the Yan­kees in the AL wild-card game. Last year, the Twins led the majors with 103 losses.

Brian Dozier, Joe Mau­rer and their Min­nesota team­mates were in the midst of a 5-13 slide when the Twins traded closer Brandon Kintz le r to Wash­ing­ton for a mi­nor lea­guer less than a month af­ter he made the All-Star team. They also dealt away Jaime Gar­cia af­ter he won his only start since they got him from At­lanta.

“A lit­tle bit of a wrin­kle,” Molitor said.

Molitor’s mes­sage to the Twins at that point was “not mag­i­cal,” he said. In­stead, it was fairly sim­ple and straight­for­ward: Be­lieve in your­selves.

“I still had a lot of op­ti­mism,” he said.

The 61-year-old Molitor was born and raised in St. Paul, Min­nesota, and got the last of his 3,319 ca­reer hits with the Twins in 1998.

Shortly af­ter the play­off loss, Molitor got a new three­year con­tract to con­tinue manag­ing the Twins.

The 52-year-old Lovullo guided the Di­a­mond­backs to a 93-69 record and their first play­off spot since 2011, a year af­ter they went 69-93.

Lovullo was Bos­ton’ s bench coach when he ran the Red Sox for 48 games in 2015 while man­ager John Far­rell un­der­went cancer treat­ment.

Pow­ered by Paul Gold­schmidt, Jake Lamb and Martinez, and led by pitch­ers Zack Greinke and Rob­bie Ray, Ari­zona made the play­offs this year.

They beat Colorado in the NL wild-card game be­fore get­ting swept by the Dodgers in the Divi­sion Se­ries.

Torey Lovullo NL Man­ager of the Year

Paul Molitor AL Man­ager of the Year

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